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Contemporary performance /w Analog Synthesizers only

Finally I can present you my latest performance from the field of "Contemporary Arts" in full length! The recording took place on 16.6.2023 in the Kulturkirche Stralsund in front of an enthusiastic audience. I want to share some insights within this blogpost with you guys.

The team

Director of the production is Bernardo San Rafael, dancers are Sylvie Cieren, Robert Ssempijja, Francesca Perrucci, Keisuke Mihara, Camila Scholtbach and Bernardo San Rafael. Audio engineer was Robert Hoth, the project video was recorded by Camille Berthelain (the GoPro material in the embedded video was made by myself).

Left to right: Keisuke Mihara, Robert Hoth, Bernardo San Rafael, Francesca Perrucci, Sylvie Cieren, Matthias Rosenkranz, Robert Ssempijja, Camila Scholtbach
Left to right: Keisuke Mihara, Robert Hoth, Bernardo San Rafael, Francesca Perrucci, Sylvie Cieren, Matthias Rosenkranz, Robert Ssempijja, Camila Scholtbach

Structure of the performance

"MUTTER!" is a dance performance for urban spaces with live sound composition about the complexity of life paths. The whole performance lasts about 50 minutes and consists of 4 parts (in brackets the time stamp in the video):

  1. Cocoons (00:00)

  2. MUTTER! (11:22)

  3. Tension (25:44)

  4. Leaving (39:05)

In contrast to our previous productions, one of the requirements was not to use beats this time. The whole composition of the music should be dark to light, sweet and powerful, chaotic and harmonic.

The Analog Synthesizer Setup

I used the following gear - its build only with analog synthesizer:

Elektron Analog Four MKII (pads, leads, bass)

Elektron Analog Rytm MKII (perc, textures)

Lyra-8 (drones)

After I had relied on a setup with my Macbook in the centre of the setup in the last project "Agbogbloshie", I had to realise that it was afflicted with some shortcomings that I wanted to avoid at all costs this time.

For instance, there were repeated drop-outs in the bass range that I couldn't reproduce, but which caused me extreme stress in the live situation. So this time I wanted to go back to the basics and only work with hardware devices. All effects come on-board from the Elektron boxes.

The Lyra-8 is used exclusively on the second track "MUTTER!". The structure of the device required me to improvise directly with the dancers. While the other parts are pre-produced patterns on the Elektron boxes, this is not possible with the Lyra-8. I didn't even try to do that, but tuned the oscillators a bit before the performance started and the rest came about absolutely spontaneously, also through the movement of the dancers. That's why this part of the show is completely different every time - you simply can't reproduce the Lyra. The connection between the instrument and the performers is simply magical!

Production and Audio Engineering

An essential point of electronic music in a church is the acoustics. Those who know my tracks know also that I like to overdo it with the use of reverb. And unfortunately that doesn't fit in the church, which is the biggest reverberator per se.

That's why we always need a sound engineer for every performance. He controls the frequencies with the help of a crossover to several loudspeakers (we had 6 plus 2 subs) measures with which delay the sound goes through the church and controls all that.

We almost completely switched off the effects directly on the instruments. But so that the recording you can hear in the video above doesn't remain super dry, we set up "atmo" mics in the church, whose signal we then mixed with the dry original sound (in addition to a good portion of VST reverb, of course).


Last but not least a photo gallery with beautiful moments of the performance. All photos (c) Anke U. Neumeister, thank you so much!

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